“This” is ultimately a selfish endeavor. I’m doing this to take stock and keep record of a moment, of a journey, of a period in time. I was inspired by Jane Fonda in this (in many things, I suppose, but especially this). Back in 2009, she did precisely this. After many years, she was returning to Broadway in Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations, and she decided to document the process. And as things like this go, that evolved into the documentation of other things entirely. But it started something like this. And so here I am doing this - this blog - this online journal which is being broadcast to the world.
I was having lunch with a friend of mine several weeks back. He’s also a business associate and a prolific writer. One of his novels shook me to the core and helped me dial into my identity and my pride as a gay man when I first read it nearly twenty-five years ago. He lives in Los Angeles, and he usually makes at least one trip a year to New York for various readings, book signings, speaking engagements, etc. On those trips we have a meal and a beer and catch up. He’s almost exactly my father’s age, and he’s lived quite an eventful life as as an artist and activist. He’s also an avid memoirist, so there’s printed record of this fascinating journey he’s lived.
On this particular visit, he’d just seen me in a solo show I’d performed in the black box space upstairs at Theatre Row - the complex of Off-Broadway houses on West 42nd Street. We were going over my recent projects - including the play, a short shot over a weekend in upstate New York, and an upcoming feature film. I was confessing to him that I was struggling a bit in compartmentalizing my various professional duties as an actor, writer, director, and producer. I admitted I’m learning I need to allow myself some recovery time after a project - especially acting jobs. The emotional investment and physical toll of performance are not things from which I can bounce back as quickly or as easily as I had in my youth
“Do you make an assessment of how the work affects you?,” he asked. “These projects,” he continued, “do you evaluate their effect on you? Because if we aren’t doing that…as artists…then what the hell are we doing?”
I had to stop and consider the question. In fact, I’ve been considering it nearly every day since. I’ve come to realize that I do assess the works’ effect on me. I shared with him at lunch that I journal nearly every day of my life. I don’t have a formal process after a project, but I do sit down with pen in hand (my Cross Century II) and write out my thoughts and feelings and fears across the pages of my black hardbound notebooks (the Moleskine with the grid pages). I’ve done this for years.
And so…”this” is a continuation of “that.” This is a bit more formal. And this is public, so there’s that. But it’s time. I’m at a place in my life where the next big hurdle for me is to live out loud. I’ve had ups and downs. There are days of which I’m proud, and some I’d just as soon keep tucked away. But at the heart of it all this is humanity. When I started reading Jane's blog back in '09, I was fascinated by her process. Reading her day-to-day on a journey that both thrilled and terrified her made me feel a little more okay about where I was on my path.
If this can help someone else, then so be it. But like I said, “this” is a selfish act. I've come to realize that the person for whom this endeavor is specifically intended is me. The beauty of this project is introspection. So if (as you take this journey with me) it sounds like (at times) I’m talking to my future or former self…that’s probably because I am.
featured photo credit: "Introspection" by Gary Hilborn. Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.